February 15th once again proved a lucky date for Antrim teams in All Ireland finals for after Creggan won the Junior title the previous year, Rossa collected the Intermediate crown exactly one year later when they beat London champions Kilburn Gaels in the 2015 final at Croke Park. In a hard fought game Rossa always had the edge, and with Gerard Walsh in superb form at left-half back they went on to seal the win by three points.
All Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final 2015
O’Donovan Rossa (Antrim) 1-9 Kilburn Gaels (London) 2-3
O’Donovan Rossa are the All Ireland Intermediate Club champions after overcoming Kilburn Gaels in a tense contest at Croke Park.
The Belfast side were never behind and led from the 24th minute. Seventeen year old wing-back Gerard Walsh, who was outstanding for the Ulster champions, put his side a point up six minutes before the break before Sean Shannon edged them two clear. Stephen Beatty finished a long ball to the net two minutes into the second half and it looked like a decisive goal, such was the dearth of scoring chances.
But the London side battled back and Killilea finished brilliantly to the top corner after being picked out by Mark O’Dwyer.
Walsh put his side three points ahead 47 minutes in before midfielder Deaglin Murphy stretched the lead to four points with 10 minutes left.
A minute later Killilea again dragged his side back into contention, this time finding the bottom left corner of Christopher McDonnell’s goal to seemingly hand the momentum to Tom Bergin’s side. O’Donovan Rossa showed commendable character after that blow to move up and Michael Armstrong put them 1-8 to 2-3 up with three minutes left on the clock. They finally sealed the win a minute into injury time and, fittingly, it was Walsh who burst into the open space in front of him from his own half-back line to land a monster score and confirm a man-of-the-match performance.
Scorers – Kilburn Gaels: K Killilea 2-1, S Lambert 0-1 (1f), H Vaughan 0-1. O’Donovan Rossa: G Walsh 0-3 (1f), S Beatty 1-0, Sean Shannon 0-2 (2f), Stephen Shannon 0-2 (2 ’65s’), D Murphy, M Armstrong 0-1 each.
Kilburn Gaels – K Finnegan; C Hickey, L Gaule, C McAlinden; N Brophy, B Regan, K Kennedy (capt); H Vaughan, B Kiely; S Lambert, J Egan, M Duggan; K Killilea, M O’Dwyer, P Kennedy. Subs: A Power for P Kennedy (29), N McDonnell for Kiely (39).
O’Donovan Rossa – C McDonnell; C Orchin, E O’Neill, K McDonnell; Stephen Shannon, C McClelland, G Walsh; C McElhatton, D Murphy; S Beatty, C McGuinness (capt), M Armstrong; A Orchin, T Morgan, Sean Shannon. Subs: J McGuinness for McElhatton (21), M Turley for McGuinness (31), G Bell for O’Neill (47), C McVeigh for Sean Shannon (55).
REF – T Carroll (Offaly).